Fire. Tavyn smelt it before he even realized what it was. At first he thought someone was having a campfire in one of the few cabins that dotted this area of Ulfrheim, but when the scent began to grow stronger Tavyn realized the situation might not be so benign. He paused along the side of the road he'd been following, lifting his nose to scent at the air. There was the smell of burning wood, which was not unusual on its own, but the thick scent of melting sap suggested there was more than just a few logs burning.
Unfortunately, Tavyn was not familiar with the area, leaving him feeling uneasy about the prospect of investigating things any farther than a few paces off the path. The small satchel of goods across his back clinked as Tavyn shifted his weight. The smart thing to do would be to keep moving and inform the nearest town elders of his concerns... Tavyn glanced down the road before heaving a heavy sigh.
Fires rarely occurred by random chance, especially when there had been no storm to spark one. It was more likely that some poor soul had left an ember unattended, or that a hearth had spat a spark just a little too far. By the time Tavyn to town to retrieve help it would likely be too late. If anyone got hurt...
With a deep breath Tavyn stepped off the path and ventured into the woods. His paws carried him swiftly through the trees, noting as he got closer to the source of the fire-smell he seemed to cross over a threshold of panicked, chattering forest animals, and then all fell silent... At least until he began to pick up on the subtle flickering and crackling pops of fire.
With concern furrowing his brows Tavyn increased his pace, the orange glow ahead only increasing his urgency. It wasn't long before the writhing beast came into sight. It lapped hungrily at the sky and Tavyn found himself frozen to the spot. He had never seen flames so large before. The friendly glow of hearthfire was nothing compared to the monstrosity before him. Tavyn could feel its heat even from across the clearing, and he could do nothing as it ate away at the timbers of an old cabin. The wood seemed to melt before his very eyes.
They oung Felvarg likely would have stood frozen until the last ember of the house had burned away, but a frantic cry drew him from his stupor. "Sarin!" Tavyn's gaze darted from the flames to a pale figure hunched nearby. They too were watching the fire consume the cabin, but their tail was tucked and their face contorted in distress.
"Momma!" A tiny voice called out from somewhere inside, sending Tavyn's heart racing when he realized what was happening. The pale Felvarg kept ducking at the flames, but the heat drove her back each time. Her child was trapped, and she was helpless to do anything but watch. Tavyn wasn't sure if he consciously decided on his next course of action, or if instinct compelled him, but before he had time to even comprehend his own actions Tavyn had driven himself past the distraught mother and directly into the heart of the inferno.
Flames lapped at every surface around him, and Tavyn could feel its heat tearing at his flesh. The smoke from the fire clogged his nose, forcing him to sneeze repeatedly as he struggled to find air. What was he doing?
The sound of cracking wood, followed by a terrified scream reminded Tavyn of his purpose, and with renewed determination the young male forced himself through the wall of flames that blocked path. Once on the other side Tavyn shook himself, dislodging the embers that smoldered at the tips of his fur. Already he could smell it burning.
With a pounding heart the young male frantically scanned the room, straining to see anything through the thick haze of smoke that curled through the air. There was a strained coughing sound from the corner of the room, nearly drowned out by the roar of the inferno and the crackling of the burning wood.
Tavyn quickly approached, his smoke-stung eyes widening in shock. A young pup, who couldn't even be a year old, was trapped behind a fallen timber. A large paneling of wood had fallen atop it, making it impossible for the pup to escape. They peered out of a small gap at Tavyn and whimpered, "I'm stuck!"
Tavyn assessed the situation quickly, looking around the room for any sort of lever that might help him free the pup. There was an iron poker nearby, propped against the wall. Tavyn wasted no time in retrieving it. With a wheezed grunt the young male tol dthe pup to stand back and jammed the poker under the wood panel. Once he was sure it wouldn't slide away Tavyn pressed down on the lever with all his might.
The wood creaked... but refused to budge.
"Loki be damned, move!" Tavyn roared, rearing up onto his hind legs before smashing down onto the iron poker. Both the wood and the iron groaned, but just as the wood began to shift the metal snapped in two, weakened by the heat of the flames.
Tavyn cursed as he crashed to the ground as the object supporting his weight was suddenly removed. He lay there for a moment, his mind reeling with the reality of what was happening, when a tiny paw suddenly reached out and touched him. "It's okay Mister... you tried... Go... Go save yourself... Tell..." Tavyn winced as the pup's voice broke and it started to cough. "Tell Momma I love her."
Tavyn's eyes stung, though he wasn't sure if it was from the smoke or tears. He could hear the house groaning around him and he knew he didn't have much time. He slowly rose to his feet, staring down at the brave little pup, and suddenly felt a powerful desire to protect well up within his chest. "I'm going to get you out."
With that promise Tavyn reared up, balancing for a moment before coming down on top of the paneling with a snarl. It didn't budge, but neither did Tavyn's determination. Again, and again, and again Tavyn came crashing down onto the wooden panel. Each impact tore through his shoulders like a hot iron, but also drove a network of cracks through the wood. He could hear the pup whimpering inside, but it sounds only fueld him. Finally, a section of the panel gave way. It left a gap just wide enough for Tavyn to work his head and forelegs through, and with a painted grunt Tavyn braced himself against the panel.
"On the count of three I'm going to lift and you're going to run. Got it?" The pup whimpered and huddled against the back wall. "Got it kid!?" Finally the pup nodded, and after a moment to collect himself Tavyn started the countdown. "One... Two..." Tavyn braced himself. "Three!" With a snarl and a pained cry Tavyn forced his shoulders against the panel. At first nothing moved, "Freyja help me." and then the wood began to creak and groan. Ash rained from above, clawing at Tavyn's eyes and lungs like tiny needles. With a shout an agonized grunt Tavyn finally stood to his full height, giving the pup the chance it needed to escape.
Tavyn's legs felt like they were going to snap at any moment, and so when he heard the pup call out, "I'm free!" he immediately withdrew. The paneling came crashing back down, mere inches from Tavyn's skull.
As he gasped for air Tavyn almost didn't feel the pup paw gently at his face, and he realized that he had collapsed. "Come on mister... get up! We-" The pup began to cough again. "Gotta go!" With a groan Tavyn struggled to his feet, his head reeling from lack of oxygen. "Yea... y-yea... I got you." Tavyn reached down and grabbed the pup by its scruff, unsteadily making his way back the way he had come. It didn't take him long to realize his original route was now blocked.
With panic tugging at the edges of his mind the young male began to look for another way out. His eyes fell upon a window across the room, and without a moment of hesitation Tavyn launched himself at that window, ducking his head to protect the pup. The old glass shattered, tearing at the soft flesh of Tavyn's face and legs with wicked sharp edges. Tavyn yelped in pain, and when he hit the ground Tavyn tumbled, loosing his grip on the pup. They were out now though. They were free.
As the world closed in on him, darkness creeping from all sides, Tavyn vaguely realized he heard voices. They sounded frantic and concerned, but oh so far away. What were they worried about? He was fine... fine... fine... His consciousness faded away, leaving him to drift in an endless sea of smoke and darkness.